2017 in Review: ECP Unit reflects on the year

Dee (Admin Assistant), Janine (Research Assistant), Wooden Colonial man, James (HoD), Lynn (Staff Developer)

On 1 December, staff members of the ECP Unit, Fundani spent the morning reviewing their work for 2017. The primary aims of this session were to create a space for review and reflection of events undertaken and organised by the unit, provide points for commentary on the value, relevance and efficiency of the activities undertaken, attempt to build cohesion among team members and outline concrete and aspirations plans for 2018. After a short team-building activity where staff were given an opportunity to share our personal stories as a way of giving each other a glimpse into our non-professional lives, the main review activities for the day commenced. Each team member presented their ‘activities-profile‘ for the year and then offered a critical and reflective analysis of the strengths and shortcomings of these undertakings. Collectively the team then compile a critical audit of strengthens and opportunities.

What we do well
  • events (the unit was able to successfully facilitate and host a variety of different staff development events – ranging from the popular classroom fikas, to the highly successful Regional ECP symposium in August)
  • research project (this is growing area of support, especially through the Action Research Project which currently attracts ECP lecturers in three faculties)
  • how we do development (a hallmark of our interaction with ECP staff in departments and facilities is to provide direct interpersonal contact and create the kinds of spaces that engender deeper and more sustained reflection and transformation of practices)
  • communication (the blog in particular was singled out as the flagship of our efforts to create a ‘virtual’ space or home for ECP lecturers across CPUT and a central connection point for our burgeoning ECP community)
Improvement areas
  • can we find better ways of interacting and engaging our community?
  • what are the best ways to support and develop members of our community?
  • should we only rely on interpersonal relationships?
  • how can we grow our research outputs in ways that benefit the ECP community?
  • how can the Unit operate in more efficient and strategic ways?

A key activity planned for early 2018 will be an external strategic review process. We will be assisted by colleagues from the University of Johannesburg, to critically evaluate our role, function and purpose within the university and importantly how this function can best be operationalised. The review session on 1 December was therefore a significant preparation task and crucial forerunner of this more intensive and broader consultative strategic process that will happen in February 2018.

Decolonizing higher education pedagogies: Michalinos Zembylas

Last Thursday, a healthy contingent of CPUT ECP lecturers attended the seminar by Michalinos Zembylas at UWC, entitled Decolonizing higher education pedagogies: Good intentions are not enough.

Prof Zembylas is Associate Professor of Education at the Open University of Cyprus, but has visiting Professor positions at both the Free State and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Universities. His research interests are in the areas of educational philosophy and curriculum theory, and his work focuses on exploring the role of emotion and affect in curriculum and pedagogy. He is particularly interested in how affective politics intersect with issues of social justice pedagogies, intercultural and peace education, and citizenship education.

Prof Zembylas presented a sort of ‘tour de force’ of decolonization theory, helping to distill what for many is a minefield of theoretical and ideological positions. However, he clearly asserted that principally the concept points to two important ideas; firstly the resistance to Eurocentrism and the acknowledgment of contributions by colonized populations across the world and secondly, the emphasis on a moral imperative for correcting the wrongs of colonial domination, thus the adoption of an ethical stance in relation to social justice for those enslaved and disempowered by persistent forms of coloniality.

Importantly Michalinos helped to differentiated between concepts and terms often used interchangeably with decolonisation like Africanization and transformation. However, the main focus of his presentation was to discuss how decolonization is (should be?) taken up and understood within the higher education setting. Here he highlighted three different approaches

  • transforming/disrupting the institutional cultures as they now exists, privileging neoliberal structures
  • exposing the dominance of Eurocentrism in curriculum and pedagogy;
  • transforming/disrupting this dominance by pointing to knowledge possibilities that have been denied relevance

He concluded by suggesting that five fundamental shifts have to be made to fully realise the decolonization project within higher education in South Africa

  1. awareness of colonization is not enough: its consequences must be exposed and challenged
  2. reject the discourse of deficiency: a dominant thinking in HE in SA attempts to understand student difficulty by framing students and their families as lacking academic and cultural resources
  3. acknowledge the sociopolitical context and its challenges and develop a strategic stepped approach to challenge colonized practices and structures
  4. good  intentions are not enough. You cannot be neutral. Neutrality amounts to perpetuating the status quo
  5. accept a loss of likeability. You will make enemies, but you have to live with this

In discussing the value of attending the seminar, ECP colleagues (Alex Noble, Lynn Coleman, Nike Romano, Nowhi Xintolo & Tasleema Mohammed) agreed that Prof Zemblyas’s ‘Different articulation of decolonization in HE’ slide was most useful in analyzing and identifying especially institutional  responses to decolonization. We also agreed that a more detailed engagement with all ECP stakeholders around this topic would be useful. It would provide individual lecturers with an opportunity to consider their own perspectives on the debates and encourage reconsiderations of their curricula and pedagogic practices in light of these debates.

Presentation Slides_Zembylas_UWC_ November 2017

Walter Sisulu University comes to visit

Mandla Mantshongo, Tabile Loqo & Mawethu Ngeleshe

Last Tuesday, 28 November 2017, the ECP Unit hosted colleagues from the Extended Curriculum Programme at Walter Sisulu University. Tabile Logo, WSU Institutional ECP Coordinator mentioned that her interest in discussing how CPUT manages its ECP grant funds  promoted the request to visit our institution and meet with key ECP roleplayers. Tabile was accompanied by Mandla Mantshongo (Finance Manager for all DHET grants) and Mawethu Ngeleshe (ECP Accountant). Discussions commenced in the morning with staff in the ECP Unit and then later ECP leaders across CPUT joined for a more dialogical engagement where best practices at individual faculty and department levels could be shared and discussed.

Tabile shared some informative details about the ECP offering at WSU. Currently WSU has 26 programmes across four campuses that service a total of 2770 students. All their programmes  implement the extended model. They were keen to hear about our differentiated approach to the implementation of the ECP models – the approach taken at CPUT is to allow departments and faculties to ultilise curriculum structures that best suit the specific educational needs of the department and students concerned. Some of the main take-aways or gems from our interaction over the day were; the detailed and direct financial control mechanisms used to oversee the whole Extended Programme Grant by the Institutional ECP Coordinator and the direct contact created between ECP students and the Institutional ECP Coordinator, through their semester-based programme review activities.  Colleagues from both institutions appreciated the opportunity to meet face-to-face and share practices and approaches linked to implementing ECP at our very different institutions. Plans are underway to extend and solidify these collegial interactions.